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Department of Statistics, UCLA

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Sensitivity of Econometric Estimates to Item Non-response Adjustment


Non-response in establishment surveys is a very important problem that can bias results of statistical analysis. The bias can be considerable when the survey data is used to do multivariate analysis that involve several variables with different response rates, which can reduce the effective sample size considerably. Fixing the non-response, however, could potentially cause other econometric problems. This paper uses an operational approach to analyze the sensitivity of results of multivariate analysis to multiple imputation procedures applied to the U.S. Census Bureau/NSF‘s Business Research and Development and Innovation Survey (BRDIS) to address item non-response. Multiple imputation is first applied using data from all survey units and periods for which there is data, presenting scenario 1. A scenario 2 involves separate imputation for units that have participated in the survey only once and those that repeat. Scenario 3 involves no imputation. Sensitivity analysis is done by comparing the model estimates and their standard errors, and measures of the additional uncertainty created by the imputation procedure. In all cases, unit non-response is addressed by using the adjusted weights that accompany BRDIS micro data. The results suggest that substantial benefit may be derived from multiple imputation, not only because it helps provide more accurate measures of the uncertainty due to item non-response but also because it provides alternative estimates of effect sizes and population totals.

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